Farm Life: Preserving the Harvest, Part 2, Tomatoes

Keeping the Harvest Separated

Now that the peaches are put up, it is time to turn to those bushels full of tomatoes.  Nothing like home grown tomatoes.  You cannot keep them more than a few days before the sugars and acids declare war, and as with most civil wars the fungus win.  So, time for the charge of the light-tomato!  

Peels and Pits, Headed to the Compost

When we first started homesteading, Linda’s concept was that she did not want to deal with anything more complicated that a tomato.  That first Fall, one of the local boys asked if Linda canned deer meat.  No, she thought, I best start with tomatoes.  However, not having grown up in the country, she did not come with the genetics for canning, nor the attentive grandmother to guide her along the way.  So, offered a variety of books on preserving.  She hoped to rent-a-grandmother, but settle for some advice from neighbors and co-works who had lots of gardening experience.

By the way, if you ask someone out here “Do you have a garden?”, you are implying vegetables.

Sort and Wash

If you want to know about flowers, you have to ask, “Do you grow flowers”.  Of course, every man has the pride of his ride-on law mower, so you need not even ask for clarification when he say, “I’m mowing Saturday”.  That implies a 3 to 4 hour joy-ride on his mower.  The appropriate question is, “Is that a zero-turn?”, which implies high status in ride-on mowers.

August is the month of tomatoes, the red to yellow variety.  These can be tiny currants to grapes to soft-ball sized globes of mouth-watering tanginess.  Tomatoes, hybrids to heirlooms.  Do not bother growing anything that might show up in the store.  This is part economics and part flavor.  Agri-business can grow “bullet-proof” fruits (our friend,


Jock’s, terminology) for pennies under what we would pay for seeds.  These are not much good, other than for practice on the golf driving range.  Rather, grow something that is some gorgeous pallet of sun-shine, and about as delicious as liquid gold.  Put is a few plants and you will be out each morning to bring in the harvest for the day or to store up for your day off canning-event.  A few years back, I worked with a 94 year old man who wanted to get out of the hospital so that he could return to tending to his 40 tomato plants.  He took his home-grown tomatoes to local nursing homes to give to residents “who were really old.”  May we all have such an ambition, and giving heart at 94!

Cook a Few Hours

Putting up whole, skinned tomatoes, might seem to be the easiest use of 30 lbs of tomatoes every few days.  But, after learning the basics, Linda branched into other processed options: soups, V-7 juice, BBQ sauce, salsa, etc.  These use not only tomatoes, but several other vegetables, which we have in abundance this time of year: peppers, onions, okra, etc.  Get up early to start this process of cleaning, slicing and dicing, stewing, straining, cooking down, water-bath canning, cooling, and eventually taking down for storage on the canning shelves.  You will be exhausted by the end of the day, but this is the kind of exhaustion that brings on sleep easily in the cool Fall evenings, until you wake to start the next batch the next morning.  What? Raspberries are coming in!

Corn, Okra, BBQ sauce, V-7 Juice

Run Through the Food Processer


About hermitsdoor

Up here in the mountains, we have a saying, "You can't get there from here", which really means "We wouldn't go the trouble to do that". Another concept is that "If you don't know, we ain't telling." For the rest, you'll have to read between the lines.
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7 Responses to Farm Life: Preserving the Harvest, Part 2, Tomatoes

  1. tnkburdett says:

    I witnessed the production this weekend. I continue to be amazed at the amount of harvest and the amount of knowledge about farming, canning, and conserving. Nothing is wasted. If humans can not eat it, the animals can. There are so many little things one has to know to make everything come out right when preserving food. These tricks are only learned by listening to those who have the knowledge. Linda and Oscar have taken the time to listen and learn from the people in the area. Being here, you can not help but marvel in the knowledge and appreciate the amount of work it takes to make everything so wonderful. I learn so much every time I walk through hermitsdoor. I especially enjoy the cans I get to take home. Watching and experiencing a complete growing season is an experience I would wish on everyone.

  2. walkingsmall says:

    I pushed the ‘like’ button, but I LOVE this post. The photos that go along with it are tremendous. You took my breath away with the rows and rows of bottled goodness. And this – “grow something that is some gorgeous pallet of sun-shine, and about as delicious as liquid gold” .. I think I need to rush over to the farmer’s market before it closes today! (I’m too late with the ‘garden’, mine being the flower-variety.)

    • hermitsdoor says:

      Wait until you wee the 500+ pears that I harvested and boxed up today! A blog in the making, after the work is done. Is your dog still digging holes in your yard? We find them regularly. I caught Bella starting one and pushing Tippy into it, so that I might think that Tippy did it. Of course, I caught Tippy digging one later… or was Bella just napping with one eye open right next to the hole… dogs.

  3. The Vicar says:

    All of this goodness doesn’t come without a lot of hard work on the part of the Hermit and the Architect (not sure who Oscar and Linda are?). I am amazed at both the pace and the amount of time you both put in to make this all happen. Each season brings it own list of chores, that if ignored, hinder the future harvest. Your dedication to the garden life is inspiring.

    Should you hear any wailing and gnashing of teeth today, no worries, it’s only our daughter learning to cope with the loss of her “best friend”. Yes, the Direct TV subscription was canceled last night and the DVR has been packed in a box for return. I’ll expect a knock at the door from CPS shortly.

  4. Mother Suzanna says:

    Amazing! Loved this blog. It’s been a long time since you’ve been “city folks”. Comes from listening and hearing the mountain folks. We all enjoy your life on the mountain. I call it “living your dream”…so few do and make it work.

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